American first lady Jill Biden will arrive in Tokyo this week to attend the opening ceremony for the Tokyo Olympics and, after the pomp and pageantry, bows and handshakes, she must eat.

For an American president or first lady to dine out in Tokyo in the company of a Japanese Prime Minister, in the recesses of Ginza Station or in a Roppongi izakaya, is a symbolic act. It is a decades-old tradition in which the dishes and restaurants, judged and studied by critics and spectators, are tied to presidential personalities and quirks. The eyes of the world are fixed on Japan, on Biden and on the plates set before her.

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